His Beatitude Ignatius IV (Hazim), Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, died Dec. 5 in Beirut, Lebanon, after suffering a stroke. He was 92.

Ignatius IV had served as patriarch since 1979. In a letter of condolence to the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly, noted Ignatius IV’s key role in starting the Middle East Council of Churches and his efforts to engage youth in church life. He founded the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch Youth Movement and Syndesmos, the Worldwide Brotherhood of Orthodox Youth.

Parsons lauded Ignatius IV for being a “persistent voice of peace and sagacity” during the recent political turbulence in Syria and across the Middle East. “His steadfast presence of grace, courage, and tolerance served as a spiritual pillar for hundreds of thousands throughout the region,” Parsons said.

Ignatius IV was born in Syria and moved to Lebanon as an adolescent. He studied at the American University of Beirut, a school founded by Presbyterian missionaries, and the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris.